Successful initiative expands to Eastern Partnership countries
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the development of female entrepreneurship in Armenia by extending a local currency loan, equivalent to US$10 million, to Ameriabank for on-lending to women-led small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
The loan comes under the expansion of the Bank’s Women in Business programme to include the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The EBRD Women in Business programme was created to strengthen the role of women in the economy and to date has been rolled out successfully in 25 countries where the Bank invests. It provides access to finance through credit lines to local banks as well as business advice, training and support for women entrepreneurs and women-led enterprises.
The programme combines financing, technical assistance, risk mitigation in the form of first-loss cover for local financial institutions and business advisory services to support women-led SMEs. Technical assistance and advisory services are jointly funded by the EBRD and the governments of Luxembourg and Sweden.
Ameriabank is one of the leading banks in Armenia and ranked first by assets, loan portfolio, and client accounts and deposits. The EBRD became a shareholder in the bank earlier this year when it acquired a 20 per cent stake. Ameriabank is the first financial institution in Armenia to join the Women in Business programme.
Mark Davis, Head of the EBRD’s Yerevan office, said: “Women represent a huge economic force in the Armenian economy and it is imperative that conditions are created to allow them to succeed. We are therefore keen to start this very important initiative in Armenia. Female entrepreneurship can be a major catalyst for the country’s economy. I am confident this credit line, together with the additional combination of advice, know-how and non-financial support services from our Women in Business team will help women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and prosper further.”
Artak Hanesyan, CEO of Ameriabank, said: “I welcome the EBRD’s initiative to boost the role of women in the Armenian economy. Women entrepreneurs have successfully entered and predominated in specific niche areas in the SME sector in Armenia. I believe that with focused support from the financial sector they can further expand their entrepreneurship and enter industries where Armenia has traditionally seen obvious gender imbalance. This programme will also allow for SME development as it gives an entire set of both financial and non-financial tools that will truly empower a very specific target audience with a huge potential.”
Since the start of its operations in Armenia in 1992, the EBRD has invested over €1.11 billion in 153 projects in the country’s financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors, with 88 per cent of these investments being in the private sector.